PRS for Music Foundation: What impact do you think New Music 20×12 will have on your work?
Jason Yarde: The impact for me is already an extremely positive one. It’s great to think that I am writing a piece that is part of what will be such an important and beautifully varied body of work representing the musical team GB through what is undeniably such a historic event for my home town of London.
PRSF: Tell us the story of how and why you joined forces with the performers you are working with on this project.
JY: I first worked with Wonderbrass back in 2000 and was a guest on their album ‘Special Brew’, they then invited me to write one of two pieces celebrating their 10th birthday. They inspired me to write ‘10!’ and we had a great deal of fun playing and hanging out in subsequent years on their musical retreats. Since that time I have kept in touch with various members on our travels and they would always be represented if I played in Wales. So, I was delighted to be invited back to work with them intensively once again. It’s a great opportunity to reunite with some old friends and meet some new ones.
PRSF: How are you going to approach creating your new work? What kinds of creative input will the performers and community you are working with have on your work?
JY: Whenever you compose, particularly for Jazz musicians, their creative input is greatest at the moment of performance to the point you can be totally surprised and inspired in the direction they might take a composition making you hear things in a different way, presenting other possibilities. So, it would be nice to include this as an element at various stages of the writing process. (Especially if it means I get to hang out with the band in Wales!). That said rhythm and a mass of people are my starting blocks in terms of musical thinking.
PRSF: Who do you hope to reach through the creation and performance of this work and what do you hope they’ll take away with them?
JY: For me it’s important that the piece reflects the group its being written for so to that end I hope the listener feels a sense of fun, community, and coming together. As for which ears it reaches, the potential is untold for works created with such a strong association to such a major international event. I hope it finds willing listeners anywhere and I’m excited by the prospects both national and international.
PRSF: Where do you draw your inspiration and influences? Which creator – musical or otherwise – do you most admire?
JY: I’m happy to take inspiration wherever it presents itself whether in the everyday or the extraordinary. Besides sound and music, I am very much drawn to visuals too whether natural, art or architecture – I’d probably be a professional photographer by now if I hadn’t followed the musical path. If I were to name just a few names though I’d have to say Stravinsky, Ellington, Wayne Shorter, Pat Metheny, Dalí, and all the Magnum photographers particularly Henrí Cartier-Bresson. Then of course there is family and faith.
PRSF: Which Olympic and/or Paralympic Games will you be seeing in 2012? What was your best/favourite sport when you were growing up?
JY: In particular, I would love to see some track and field events in the Stratford stadium. Of course I played a lot of football and a bit of table tennis and all sorts when I was a kid but athletics are always key for me come the Olympics. I used to be quite serious about 400 hundred meters and triple jump myself, until the mid morning warmth of a practice won out over the early morning cold of the running track.